(a) State regulation
No person shall open or develop any new or previously mined or abandoned site for surface coal mining operations on lands on which such operations are regulated by a State unless such person has obtained a permit from the State's regulatory authority.
(b) Interim standards
All surface coal mining operations on lands on which such operations are regulated by a State which commence operations pursuant to a permit issued on or after six months from August 3, 1977, shall comply, and such permits shall contain terms requiring compliance with, the provisions set out in subsection (c) of this section. Prior to final disapproval of a State program or prior to promulgation of a Federal program or a Federal lands program pursuant to this chapter, a State may issue such permits.
(c) Full compliance with environmental protection performance standards
On and after nine months from August 3, 1977, all surface coal mining operations on lands on which such operations are regulated by a State shall comply with the provisions of subsections (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(5), (b)(10), (b)(13), (b)(15), (b)(19), and (d) of section 1265 of this title or, where a surface coal mining operation will remove an entire coal seam or seams running through the upper fraction of a mountain, ridge, or hill by removing all of the overburden and creating a level plateau or a gently rolling contour with no highwalls remaining, such operation shall comply with the requirements of section 1265(c)(4) and (5) of this title without regard to the requirements of section 1265(b)(3) or (d)(2) and (3) of this title, with respect to lands from which overburden and the coal seam being mined have not been removed: Provided, however, That surface coal mining operations in operation pursuant to a permit issued by a State before August 3, 1977, issued to a person as defined in section 1291(19) of this title in existence prior to May 2, 1977 and operated by a person whose total annual production of coal from surface and underground coal mining operations does not exceed one hundred thousand tons shall not be subject to the provisions of this subsection except with reference to the provision of section 1265(d)(1) of this title until January 1, 1979.
(d) Permit application
Not later than two months following the approval of a State program pursuant to section 1253 of this title or the implementation of a Federal program pursuant to section 1254 of this title, regardless of litigation contesting that approval or implementation, all operators of surface coal mines in expectation of operating such mines after the expiration of eight months from the approval of a State program or the implementation of a Federal program, shall file an application for a permit with the regulatory authority. Such application shall cover those lands to be mined after the expiration of eight months from the approval of a State program or the implementation of a Federal program. The regulatory authority shall process such applications and grant or deny a permit within eight months after the date of approval of the State program or the implementation of the Federal program, unless specially enjoined by a court of competent jurisdiction, but in no case later than forty-two months from August 3, 1977.
(e) Federal enforcement program
Within six months after August 3, 1977, the Secretary shall implement a Federal enforcement program which shall remain in effect in each State as surface coal mining operations are required to comply with the provisions of this chapter, until the State program has been approved pursuant to this chapter or until a Federal program has been implemented pursuant to this chapter. The enforcement program shall—
(1) include inspections of surface coal mine sites which may be made (but at least one inspection for every site every six months), without advance notice to the mine operator and for the purpose of ascertaining compliance with the standards of subsections (b) and (c) above. The Secretary shall order any necessary enforcement action to be implemented pursuant to the Federal enforcement provision of this subchapter to correct violations identified at the inspections;
(2) provide that upon receipt of inspection reports indicating that any surface coal mining operation has been found in violation of subsections (b) and (c) above, during not less than two consecutive State inspections or upon receipt by the Secretary of information which would give rise to reasonable belief that such standards are being violated by any surface coal mining operation, the Secretary shall order the immediate inspection of such operation by Federal inspectors and the necessary enforcement actions, if any, to be implemented pursuant to the Federal enforcement provisions of this subchapter. When the Federal inspection results from information provided to the Secretary by any person, the Secretary shall notify such person when the Federal inspection is proposed to be carried out and such person shall be allowed to accompany the inspector during the inspection;
(3) provide that the State regulatory agency file with the Secretary and with a designated Federal office centrally located in the county or area in which the inspected surface coal mine is located copies of inspection reports made;
(4) provide that moneys authorized by section 1302 of this title shall be available to the Secretary prior to the approval of a State program pursuant to this chapter to reimburse the State for conducting those inspections in which the standards of this chapter are enforced and for the administration of this section.
(5) for purposes of this section, the term "Federal inspector" means personnel of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and such additional personnel of the United States Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, or of the Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration so designated by the Secretary, or such other personnel of the Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service, or the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service as arranged by appropriate agreement with the Secretary on a reimbursable or other basis;
(f) Interim period
Following the final disapproval of a State program, and prior to promulgation of a Federal program or a Federal lands program pursuant to this chapter, including judicial review of such a program, existing surface coal mining operations may continue surface mining operations pursuant to the provisions of this section. During such period no new permits shall be issued by the State whose program has been disapproved. Permits which lapse during such period may continue in full force and effect until promulgation of a Federal program or a Federal lands program.